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No transgression of self-duty escapes punishment, more than transgression of
all in vain. Gilles being profecuted before the three estates of the province for high treason, was unanimously abfolved; which irritated the Duke more and more. Arthur of Montauban artfully suggested to his master to try poison ; which having miscarried, they next refolved to starve the prisoner to death. The unfortunate prince, through the bars of a window, cried aloud for bread; but the passengers durft not supply him. One poor woman only had courage more than once to flip some bread within the window. He charged a priest, who had received his confeffion, to declare to the Duke, “That seeing justice was refufed him in this " world, he appealed to Heaven; and called upon « the Duke to appear before the judgement-seat of “ God in forty days.” The Duke and his favourite, amazed that the prince lived so long without nourishment, employ'd affaffins to smother him with his bed-cloaths. The priest, in obedience to the orders he had received, presented himself before the Duke, and with a loud voice cited him in name of the deceased Lord Gilles to appear before God in forty days. Shame and remorse verified the prediction. The Duke was seized with a sudden terror; and the image of his brother, expiring by his orders, haunted him day and night. He decay'd daily without any marks of a regular difeafe, and died within the forty days in frightful agony.
See this subject further illustrated in the Sketch Principles and Progress of Theology, chap. I.
duty to others. The punishments, tho' not the same, differ in degree more than in kind. Injustice is punished with remorse: impropriety with shame, which is remorse in a lower degree. Injustice raises indignation in the beholder, and fo doth every flagrant impropriety : slighter improprieties receive a milder punishment, being rebuked with some degree of contempt, and commonly with derision (a).
So far we have been led in a beaten track; but in attempting to proceed, we are entangled in mazes and intricacies. An action well intended may happen to produce no good; and an action ill intended may happen to produce no mischief: a man overawed by fear, may be led to do mischief against his will; and a person, mistaking the standard of right and wrong, may be innocently led to do acts of injustice. By what rule, in such cases, are rewards and punishments to be apply'd ? Ought a man to be rewarded
? when he does no good, or punished when he does no mischief: ought he to be punished for doing mischief against his will,
(a) See Elements of Criticism, chap. 10.
or for doing mischief when he thinks he is acting innocently? These questions suggest a doubt, whether the standard of right and wrong be applicable to rewards and punishments.
We have seen that there is an invariable standard of right and wrong, which depends not in any degree on private opinion or conviction. By that standard, all pecuniary claims are judged, all claims of property, and, in a word, every demand founded on interest, not excepting reparation, as will afterward appear. But with respect to the moral characters of men, and with respect to rewards and punishments, a different standard is erected in the common sense of mankind, neither rigid nor inflexible; which is, the opinion that men have of their own actions. It is mentioned above, that a man is esteemed innocent in doing what he himself thinks right, and guilty in doing what he himself thinks wrong. In applying this standard to rewards and punishments, we reward those who in doing wrong are however convinced that they are innocent; and punish those who in doing right are however convinced that they are
guilty * Some, it is true, are fo perverted by improper education or by superstition, as to espouse numberless absurd tenets, contradictory to the standard of right and wrong; and yet such men are no exception from the general rule: if they act according to conscience, they are innocent, and safe against punishment however wrong the action may be; and if they act against conscience, they are guilty and punishable however right the action may be : it is abhorrent to every moral perception, that a guilty person be rewarded, or an innocent person punished, Further, if mischief be done contrary to Will, as where a man is .compelled by fear or by torture, to reveal the secrets of
may be grieved for yielding to the weakness of his nature, contrary to his firmest resolves ; but he has no check of conscience, and upon that account is not liable to punishment. And lastly, in order that personal merit and demerit may
his party ;
* Virtuous and vicious, innocent and guilty, fig. nify qualities both of men and of their actions. Approbation and disapprobation, praise and blame, signify certain emotions or sentiments of those who fee or contemplate men and their actions.
not not in
any measure depend on chance, we are so constituted as to place innocence and guilt, not on the event, but on the intention of doing right or wrong; and accordingly, whatever be the event, a man is praised for an action well intended, and condemned for an action ill intended.
But what if a man intending a certain wrong, happen by accident to do a wrong he did not intend ; as, for example, intending to rob a warren by shooting the rabbits, he accidentally wounds a child unseen behind a bush? The delinquent ought to be punished for intending to
and he is also subjected to repair the hurt done to the child : but he cannot be punished for the accidental wound; because our nature regulates punishment by the intention, and not by the event
* During the infancy of nations, pecuniary compositions for crimes were universal; and during that long period, very little weight was laid upon intention. This proceeded from the cloudiness and ob. scurity.of moral perceptions among barbarians, making no distinction between reparation and pecuniary punishment. Where a man does mischief intentionally, or is versans in illicito, as expre:fed in the Roman law, he is justly bound to repair all the